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IEA World Energy Outlook 2011 Paints A Grim Carbon Soaked Picture

The renewable energy revolution is making headway, but not fast enough. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest World Energy Outlook shows the world still locked into a fossil-fuel reliant, inefficient and carbon intensive energy system in 2035. The Agency says this future can be avoided, but time is running out.
The alarm bells were sounded at the launch of the 2011 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO). Central to the report is the New Policies Scenario, based on the assumption recent government commitments are implemented and primary energy demand increases 33% between 2010 and 2035, with 90% of the growth in non-OECD economies. 
Under the scenario, the share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption drops from around 81% today to 75% in 2035. It may sound positive, but it’s not enough given the additional demand for energy by that time.
Renewables increase from 13% of the mix today to 18% in 2035 under the scenario; but that growth depends on subsidies rising from $64 billion in 2010 to $250 billion in 2035 – a sum by no means guaranteed given the state of the world’s economy. 
Even with the $250 billion in subsidies in 2035, it pales in comparison to the support fossil fuels receive right now – approximately $409 billion in 2010; which was over 6 times the support renewables received last year. The IEA has repeatedly called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
The coal industry and related sectors, major culprits contributing to skyrocketing emissions, will likely be rubbing their hands together give the World Energy Outlook 2011 projection of coal use rising 65% by 2035.
In the New Policies Scenario, cumulative carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years add up to 75% of the total from the past 110 years. This would mean a long term average temperature rise of 3.5°C – far higher than the red-line level of 2°C.
Addressing the issue of the cost to avoid such a nightmare future, the IEA says delaying action is a false economy as for every dollar of investment in cleaner technology not invested by the power sector before 2020; an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.
“As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the “lock-in” of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals,” said Fatih Birol, IEA Chief Economist.

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